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Posted by lavendergem on 2007.07.25 at 13:56
Current Music: Be My Escape (acoustic)-- Relient K
My friend, Reed Merino, has written a nice article addressing some objections to Christian non-resistance. He quotes Hippolytus, but more early Christian quotes can be found if needed.

"You can't turn the other cheek on behalf of anyone but yourself. Nonresistance is only for individuals vis a vis individuals. "

The command that Jesus gave is indeed to individuals, just like His commands about adultery and humility; here is the full passage, which sets up the context:

Matthew 5:38-48 "You have heard that it was said, "AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH." But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

From this context it is clear that Jesus was establishing a Way of life that was RADICALLY different from the "fight and flight" instincts of mankind's "human nature."

His Way was different from even the Spirit-filled prophets that had preceeded Him. Neither Moses nor ANY prophet had ever spoken in this "crazy upside-down" way. Furthermore, the radical-ness of that Way outlined above clearly encompasses more than the issue of killing while in the military or killing as a policeman: as also stated, it encompasses the radical freedom from the hold that the "what is mine is MINE" instinct has upon all human lives. It also has to do with overcoming evil with good when someone sues us unjustly, instead of trying to defend our reputations and honor. It has to do with the way we are to shower our love upon others in the way that the Father sends the rain -- upon evil and good people alike -- an outpouring of divine love into us and then through us, stretching us into the perfection of God, making us "partakers of the Divine nature." The fact that this passage is a command threatens our "human nature", because we are so atheistic in our fleshly instincts that we cannot help believing that such a [seemingly] defenseless love will expose us to ridicule, rejection and even physical harm. Human nature tells us that God will NOT honor such a radical leap of faith if we make the choice to renounce that human nature. When you renounce that human nature, the world's citizens realize that you are declaring that it is THEY, the great majority, who are living the upside-down lives. Indeed, NO one has ever spoken in this "crazy upside-down" way before.

Because this teaching and Way have such deep and widespread consequences, we can be confident that God would have made sure we know of any exceptions or modifications we were supposed to apply to the literal, grammatically natural sense of those phrases. And, to the consternation of our human natures, there are none to be found!

But every command of God is also an implied promise: being in God's covenant of salvation requires such a "carnicidal"*** [see below] decision; but the fact that we MUST obey these radical teachings from our Creator and Protector makes this paragraph a part of God definition of "the Gospel" proclamation: "Indwelt by My Son and My Spirit, you CAN overcome evil with good. You CAN receive such outpouring of Divine love that it will continuing spilling over when brought into the presence of those filled with human and spiritual evil. You CAN enjoy a happiness that does not require ANY accumulation of possessions to make you feel secure and content." "He who believes in Me as the Scripture says, from His 'gut' (Greek: 'koilia') will FLOW rivers of living/moving/ unstoppable water," and that Spirit will guarantee that what is impossible with men IS possible with God! Amen?

If we only resist the radical interpretation of the teachings in that paragraph, and the universality of their scope, because we have a scholar's discipline to weigh ALL of His teachings before we surrender to any ONE of them -- if that is the case, well and good (VERY good). But He who weighs the hearts will reveal to us when our resistance is merely the intellect's covering over of cowardice and distrust (for which there is an appropriate remedy, when acknowledged and confessed).

And if He reveals that motivation of cowardice and distrust to us, we need to temporarily forget about the theoretical answer to the "Christians in the military" debate, and go deeper into the "A, B, C's" of what He sees to be true within our hearts -- that we are still afraid of what HE calls "dying to self;" that we really do not [yet] want to know experientially what HE means by the mutually exclusive nature of the choice between the kingdom whose prince is the "power of the air" and the kingdom whose emperor is the Holy One of Israel:

Hebrews 13:12-14 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Hence, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

Choosing to become His disciple also MUST include the recognition that America, "Christendom" (even at its VERY best) and every nation that has ever populated the globe is part of a Satanically- manipulated system that will never and CAN never be like Israel was commanded to be. Israel failed its vocation to be a geographical/ political entity within which the will of God was incarnated -- and it HAD such a Divine command. No other political entity has even be extended such a command or promise by God. Israel's failure was the world's failure. We who choose Jesus over Satan serve the world by being its firemen, but not its policemen, if you know what I mean. We serve the world by taking care of its plague victims when its own citizens flee from the city in fear, even though it costs us our life. Until we make such a "carnicidal" decision, we are still waiting for the "jury to come in" on our decision to yield to Christ. It is the lack of such decision to be taught and received that makes Christendom the bastardization of that kingdom of God that Jesus brought to the earth: this is true of Christendom' s evangelical and pentecostal forms, as well as its "Catholic" forms. The reason why the church always taught, with Peter, that "Baptism saves you...", was because (originally) baptism was intimately connected to the tumultuous decision to surrender unconditionally and absolutely to the authority of Christ and His teachings -- taken in their literal, grammatically natural sense.

The fact that the command was given to individuals does not restrict its universal application any more than the fact that the command to sexual purity was given to individuals. When I am in the battlefield facing an enemy that wants to kill me before I do the same to him -- this is a HIGHLY individualistic scenario. That fact that my nation's survival may be at stake is only relevant to those who have not yet died to citizenship in that system: it was the attempt to join together those whom God has split asunder that created the various forms of "Christendom" that have disappointed most of us in this discussion group.

"Jesus never condemned the life of a soldier. Centurions were received into the church without the slightest hint that they would have to give up their military career."

This is an argument from silence that supports whatever side you are on: there was also not the slightest hint that they would continue swinging the sword. Neither side should use these texts to support their argument. The testimony of Hippolytus' "Apostolic Tradition" (ca. 200 A.D.) demonstrates how the church fulfilled the command of Christ without requiring the abandonment of the military (which was NOT held in dishonor, as it is by modern secular pacifists):

"16 They will inquire concerning the works and occupations of those are who are brought forward for instruction. 2If someone is a pimp who supports prostitutes, he shall cease or shall be rejected. 3If someone is a sculptor or a painter, let them be taught not to make idols. Either let them cease or let them be rejected. 4If someone is an actor or does shows in the theater, either he shall cease or he shall be rejected. 5If someone teaches children (worldly knowledge), it is good that he cease. But if he has no (other) trade, let him be permitted. 6A charioteer, likewise, or one who takes part in the games, or one who goes to the games, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. 7If someone is a gladiator, or one who teaches those among the gladiators how to fight, or a hunter who is in the wild beast shows in the arena, or a public official who is concerned with gladiator shows, either he shall cease, or he shall be rejected. 8If someone is a priest of idols, or an attendant of idols, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. 9A military man in authority must not execute men. If he is ordered, he must not carry it out. Nor must he take military oath. If he refuses, he shall be rejected. 10If someone is a military governor,a or the ruler of a city who wears the purple, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. 11The catechumen or faithful who wants to become a soldier is to be rejected, for he has despised God..."

"War is unavoidable in a fallen world."

Yes: there will be wars and rumors of wars until the very end. There will also be theft, adultery, disease, hatred of authority, despising of angelic beings, etc... We are NOT called to be secular pacifists who despise authority and try to force governments to act as if they were peace-loving, justice-loving, God-fearing institutions. We are called to build up a parallel, competitive, good-willed kingdom of God, called "My church," whose communities "have all things in common" and have an instinct for "equality" toward one another, who have resolved (however imperfectly) the problems that must beset the societies of composed of godless human nature.

"I can make the argument myself that if Christians had solid faith and were full to the brim with the power of the Holy Spirit available to us, prayer alone would be sufficient defense -- and dying in the place of others has always been the highest Christian calling, the best defense if it comes to that. But I can't quite defend applying that in this fallen world among Christians who are weak in faith."

Again, good logic would require that we apply this argument to EVERY teaching of Christ and His apostles that our "human nature" feels the need to compromise. Everything from the profoundly consequential issue of remarried applicants for baptism, to the supposedly less important teaching about head coverings has been justified by resorting to this principle. It is that very principle that has created the "Christendom" whose conflicting denominations litter the landscape of this planet. Regardless of how cowardly the rest of Christendom is, MY decision must be to surrender absolutely and unconditionally to the identity, authority, commands and promises of God's Messiah. Amen?

The real issue is: do I trust Jesus enough to treat Him as if He were the brilliant, meticulous designer and manufacturer of my own body, Who never wasted words or failed to think through the far-reaching consequences of every word that proceeded from His mouth? When God brought me into and out of that crisis and intellectual surrender, it was amazing how quickly so much of the perplexing Scriptures fell into place (not all, but an amazingly large percentage of them).

Come, Lord Jesus, and enable our hearts to believe in and cry out for that Spirit's falling, that Spirit who will shepherd us from within to believe like little children in every word that has come out of your mouth. MaranaTHA!

***my tongue-in-cheek for "homicide of the carnal nature"


kengara at 2007-08-07 23:10 (UTC) (Link)
Hm so it's saying, people shouldn't fight other people for their own sakes or for the sakes of worldly things/institutions? What about fighting for the sake of others, to defend them?
Also, I don't understand what the author is suggesting about participating in the wars of the country they live in. What if there were a draft?
lavendergem at 2007-08-12 13:40 (UTC) (Link)
Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you, it's been a hectic week!

I suppose to answer your questions, I may have to make another post entirely, but I'll try to be to the point here. Basically, Reed is coming from the POV that Christians have been called out of this world and into a new Kingdom-- the one preached by Christ and His Apostles, and in this Kingdom, we must obey His rules and commands. Sayings like "turn the other cheek" and "don't resist an evil person" (Matthew 5:39) aren't just pretty words or poetic statements, but actual commands from our Master. Along with those commands go promises of blessing, and fulfillment.

If we see someone being mistreated or beaten, this does not mean we stand idly by. But, in the power of the Spirit, we can come between a victim and their attacker. Now, that person is focussed on us, right? They are now going to hit us-- so what does our Master command? Do not resist him-- turn the other cheek-- LOVE him (or her). The early Christians were well known for taking the beatings meant for their fellows, and they never once fought back. What if they try to kill you? Let them-- or let them try. After all our next breath is in the Hands of the One who hung the stars; what have we to fear from man?

The early Church also addresses the draft issue. They were criticized by the Romans for not joining up in the military or taking up arms on behalf of the country. Their response was that they could not involve themselves in bloodshed but served the nation much better by going to war for it in the spiritual realms by praying for Rome and her leaders and Caesars.

In more modern times, Kingdom movements such as the Anabaptists have resurrected this lost teaching, and would not go to war or take up arms against their fellow man. In the last World War, when there was a draft, Anabaptists groups like the Mennonites would find other non-violent ways to serve, such as nursing etc.

Basically, if your country calls you to do something contrary to God's Law, God's Law always prevails-- even if it means persecution, imprisonment and even death.

What quarrel do we have with our fellow man? We are called to love and serve them, even when they hate us and try to kill us. They are blind and in darkness, and do not know the Lord of Light. We cannot show them that light at the point of a sword or down the barrel of a gun. What quarrel do we have with another nation's enemies? They are not our enemies-- our enemies have all become our neighbors, and are to be met with the same compassion and mercy with which we ourselves have been dealt.

We have Jesus' commands, and His promises. We need to step out in faith and trust that HE knows what He's doing and die to this flesh that cries for vengeance and worldly justice.
kengara at 2007-08-12 14:17 (UTC) (Link)
Good answer! I have nothing more to ask :)
kengara at 2007-08-12 22:46 (UTC) (Link)
Okay I'm back! With some biblical stuff.

Luk 3:14 Soldiers also asked him, saying, "What about us? What must we do?" He said to them, "Extort from no one by violence, neither accuse anyone wrongfully. Be content with your wages."

This is John the Baptist talking, and he doesn't say they should stop being soldiers, which it seems obvious that he would have if it had seemed to him that being a soldier was wrong.

Rom 13:3-4 For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Do you desire to have no fear of the authority? Do that which is good, and you will have praise from the same, for he is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he doesn't bear the sword in vain; for he is a servant of God, an avenger for wrath to him who does evil.

Paul doesn't condemn the ruler's sword.

Okay that's all.
lavendergem at 2007-08-13 12:58 (UTC) (Link)
Jesus did not tell soldiers to abandon their posts. But His commands would certainly make their jobs a lot harder. Based on Christ's teachings, and the teachings of His Apostles, the early Christians understood that if one was already a soldier, it wasn't necessary to leave one's service-- as long as one could continue in that service without compromising one's walk with God-- whether through taking oaths, idolatry, or in the shedding of blood. But if one were a Christian, military life was on the "list" of unacceptable occupations that must be given up, or else excommunication.

It was prophesied that these new Kingdom dwellers would be peaceful: For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war. Isaiah 2:3,4

The early Christians were taught, and understood, (and often quoted it) that this verse applied to them, as citizens of Christ's Kingdom. Other verses they applied were:

Matthew 5:38-41 "You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two."
Matt 26:52 "Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword."
John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."
2 Cor. 10:3,4 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses...

They had much to say about it in their own words as well, and it's hard to pick and choose which statements for this small space, but I'll try. Specifically about Christians in the army:

Hippolytus: A military man in authority must not execute men. If he is ordered, he must not carry it out. Nor must he take military oath. If he refuses, he shall be rejected. If someone is a military governor,a or the ruler of a city who wears the purple, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. The catechumen or faithful who wants to become a soldier is to be rejected, for he has despised God..." (Apostolic Tradition 16)

Tertullian: Of course, if faith comes later and finds someone already occupied with military service, their case is different. For example, there is the instance of those whom John [the Baptist] received for baptism and of those most faithful centurions. I mean the centurion whom Christ approved, and the centurion Peter instructed [i.e., Cornelius]. Yet at the same time, when a man has become sealed, there must be an immediate abandonment of the military office, which has been the course of many-- or else all sorts of quibbling will have to be resorted to in order to avoid offending God. And such quibbling is not allowed, even outside of military service.

Tertulian also said,"Do we believe it is lawful for a human oath to be added on top of one that is divine?... Shall a Christian apply the chain the prison, the torture and the punishment, when he is not the avenger of his own wrongs? Shall he stand guard for others more than for Christ? Shall he do it on the Lord's Day, when he does not do it for even Christ Himself? Shall he stand guard before those temples he has renounced? Shall he take a meal where the apostle has forbidden him?... You will see by a slight survey how many other offenses there are involved in camp offices. And we must hold them to involve a transgression of God's Law." (c.211,W), ANF 3.99,100
kengara at 2007-08-14 04:22 (UTC) (Link)
Alright, good answers.

One last (maybe) clarification: it is permitted to defend oneself without violence, like, say, by running away from an attacker?
lavendergem at 2007-08-17 18:24 (UTC) (Link)
lol, well, He does seem to be saying stand there and take it, but if it's between fighting and running, I suppose running is preferable. ;)

But I also believe that as new creations in Christ, we are supposed to be dead (or dying) to all of the carnal nature, including our "natural" instincts-- such as "fight or flight." It is His Spirit in us Who turns the other cheek, and allows us to stand in the face of persecution. This is a supernatural command and promise. We are His new little spirit babies who do the impossible; things that could never be accomplished in our old carnal natures. We serve the God Who raises the dead, and He promises us the power to accomplish His incredible commands, if we will submit to them and follow where He leads.
kengara at 2007-08-18 02:42 (UTC) (Link)
So you think it's better to stand and take it than to run? I'm not disagreeing, but here are some consequences of that idea: What about when children strike their parents; should parents just take it? If someone wants to kill you, you should let them? If someone wants to kill someone else, you should let them? If someone is actively killing/raping someone, you shouldn't try to get them away? I dunno if I could believe the last one... just standing by while that happened :/
lavendergem at 2007-08-20 22:18 (UTC) (Link)
What about when children strike their parents; should parents just take it?

Absolutely not. A child is under the care, discipline and covering of their parents. An "evil person" is not. It is a parent's responsibility to discipline their child, and it should never be allowed that a child should strike their parent. Christ's commands were given specifically in relation to how we treat our "neighbors" and our "enemies." It has NOTHING to do with child rearing.

If someone wants to kill you, you should let them? If someone wants to kill someone else, you should let them?

If someone wants to kill you, you need to remember Who holds your life in His hand. We shouldn't go out seeking trouble at all, but if we find ourselves in a situation where our life is in danger, we need to trust that God has it well in hand. Let them kill you-- if they can. Who has sent His angels to take charge over you? When we try to "control" our circumstances, when we really have no control in the first place, we can really screw things up. If someone else is in danger, as I said before, there is nothing to stop you from coming between an attacker and their victim.

But all of this is hypothetical. Jesus didn't give hypothetical situational ethics. He merely said, "If... then..." and gave us a command and an example. We can come up with all kinds of fleshly reasons why we shouldn't obey Him, but that shows neither faith, nor submission, nor trust in His Word. The fact of the matter is, we probably WON'T encounter one of the above scenarios. But the likelihood of encountering someone that we receive daily barbs from, or that mother-in-law who needles us to the breaking point is far more likely. How do we learn to respond to them in love? Do we accept that Jesus really meant those commands for us, and are we willing to be tested in them? You probably won't have a gun held to your head anytime soon. But if you are willing to have your heart circumcised from this fleshly nature that seeks to preserve itself, and commit to the commands regarding such a situation, I can guarantee that you will be tested in the little things.

Don't worry about what to do if someone is being raped before your very eyes. The chances of that happening are slim, and if it DOES occur, it is because God has put you in that position for a purpose. At which point, I would be asking for God's assistance with every ounce of my being.

To kind of put it into perspective for you, in her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom relates the story of when she and her sister Betsie had been capture by the Nazis. At the camp, they were stripped naked, and forced to watch as one of their female guards mercilessly beat one of their fellow prisoners. Finally, Corrie couldn't take anymore, and cried out, "Oh the poor woman!" Her sister beside her, equally moved, said, "Yes, may God forgive her!"

When we see our "enemies" as no longer our enemies, but through the eyes of Christ; poor wretches, lost in darkness, deserving of our compassion and love, then I think we can truly say we have been converted.
kengara at 2007-08-20 22:26 (UTC) (Link)
Okay, now I'm really done with questions :p
paceytdch at 2013-02-17 01:49 (UTC) (Link)
what are you doing? Let’s chat Go Here dld.bz/chwZK
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